We spent a lovely holiday weekend with our friends, Barb and J.C. Hendee, authors of The Noble Dead Saga (among other titles). They’re a couple of the lucky ones: bestselling authors who have had the wonderful opportunity to make their living writing books. Naturally, it has its trade-offs (all self-employment opportunities do), but it was great to spend time with them, talking about Things Writerly, and learning from tales from their lives as modern writers.
Barb Hendee has a new book out, first in a brand-new series, so if you like fantasy, exceptional character development, a tight plot, and a satisfying read, check out her The Mist-Torn Witches, available in paperback and on Kindle.
During our visit, I took advantage of the quiet mornings to do some clustering exercises for my new project, and in doing so, I discovered my working title!
A working title is an important step in my process. My working titles always encapsulate focal elements. Luckily, most of my working titles have made it to the finished product, but I’m well aware of the fact that any title I come up with will be reviewed and possibly changed by any publisher.
Example: Dreams of the Desert Wind had the working title Khamsin. A “khamsin” is a sandstorm, common to the Middle East, and that word gave me several levels of focus: the Middle East, the desert, the wind, and an image of things may be hidden or obscured. This title worked all over the place for me, but my publisher convinced me that the book buying public wouldn’t have a clue as to what it meant; they needed something comprehensible. I like the original better, but it’s hard to argue with his reasoning.
Working titles can change, of course, as the work progresses. Beneath a Wounded Sky started as Under a Sunburned Sky, then was Beneath a Crystal Sky, before it finally coalesced (about halfway through the first draft) into its final version.
So, finding the focal point for this new book is a critical step in my outlining process. It’s a peg onto from which I can hang my writer’s cap when I set to work.
Sometimes it’s the little things.